An uneven or cracked concrete sidewalk is more than just an eyesore. It can also prove to be a dangerous tripping hazard for anyone who happens to walk across it. Completely replacing an entire sidewalk will take up a lot of your time and money.
JES Foundation Repair can install a quick-setting concrete lifting solution that will stabilize your sidewalk and keep it upright for years. Polyurethane injection foam is a modern concrete lifting alternative that can save you time, money, and stress. Let’s take a look at the problem signs and causes behind concrete deterioration and how this heavy-lifting foam can help.
How Do I Know When My Concrete Sidewalk Needs to be Repaired?
Despite all the issues an uneven or cracked concrete can cause, many homeowners and business owners are unable to recognize problem signs until it is too late. Catching these signs before they worsen can help prevent your sidewalk from becoming completely ruined.
These signs range from subtle to very visible, so you need to keep an eye out for anything. Here are some of the more common problem signs.
- Misaligned Edges
Take a close look at your concrete sidewalk slabs. Each slab should line up relatively parallel to the ones next to it. If you notice a shift in your concrete slabs, you should get your sidewalk repaired.
Fixing concrete slabs that do not match upright is about more than curb appeal. If you continue to allow these slabs to shift around, you risk your sidewalk becoming a hazard to traverse. This may lead to less foot traffic to your business or even lawsuits waiting to happen. As soon as you notice any issues with your sidewalk, it is best to repair it before the problem grows worse.
- Street Creep
Concrete can shift from where it was originally laid over time. This shifting is so subtle that many homeowners and business owners will not be able to detect it.
Though any shift in your concrete can damage your property, the particular shift known as “street creep” can be especially heinous. Street creep mainly occurs during the colder months when the concrete slabs will contract and open up the joints between them. Pebbles, soil, or other debris may fall into these more open joints.
This can prove disastrous when the weather warms up again and the slabs attempt to expand back to normal. Because the joints that would have cushioned this expansion are now filled with debris, the concrete slabs cannot compress as well as they would. The slabs will then push themselves up to your home’s driveway or closer into your structure to alleviate this expansion pressure. This can affect your foundation and cause larger issues there as well.
Seeing cracks, chips, or other evidence of damage to your concrete sidewalk is perhaps the most obvious sign that something is wrong. Concrete may be tough, but it is not indestructible. Over time, it will begin to show signs of wear and damage.
If you leave cracks to continue to expand, it may adversely affect your sidewalk and may even affect your foundation, too.
What Causes Concrete to Wear Down?
Often, homeowners and business owners alike will not be able to detect when their sidewalks are shifting. This can lead to all sorts of issues such as cracks, stains, pits, and other unsightly damage to your sidewalk.
Knowing what can cause a tough material like concrete to wear down in the first place can help homeowners and business owners stay on top of its upkeep. You may also be able to prevent further damage or wear from occurring if you catch these problems in time.
- Hydrostatic Pressure
Moisture is perhaps the most common cause of concrete damage. Not only can heavy snows or rainfall erode away the soil lying underneath, but it can also infiltrate the concrete itself. Both can cause major damage to your sidewalk.
Concrete sidewalks are often laid on top of compact soil. When moisture seeps through, it can do one of two things. The added pressure of the water and soil rising up can cause the concrete to shift or crack under the strain.
It may also become trapped within the concrete’s pores and later freeze in the winter. The expanding ice will create even more pressure on the concrete and fracture it. A constant cycle of weather enforcing this pressure on your sidewalk will definitely wear it down.
This phenomenon is known as hydrostatic pressure. Be warned that this pressure can extend all the way to your foundation as well, so you cannot ignore it and hope it goes away.
- Settling Concrete
Heavy rainfall may also wash out the soil supporting your concrete sidewalk. Though the water might continue to support or even lift your concrete for a time, you cannot rely on it to stay that way forever.
Eventually, the water will drain away someplace else or evaporate. Without any support at all, your sidewalk’s slabs may start to dip or shift after settling again.
- Chemical Agents
Using chemical salts to melt any ice or snow on your sidewalk will take a toll on your sidewalk. You might even start to see small pockets in the concrete where you previously laid the salt.
This is not to say that you should stop using these salts. Applying these agents can keep your sidewalk safe for pedestrians to walk across in the iciest weather. Rather, you need to find a waterproofing solution that will protect your concrete sidewalk instead.
- Regular Foot Traffic
Many people will walk across your concrete sidewalk over the years and slowly but surely wear it down. A concrete sidewalk is built to be walked across, so there is not anything you can really do to prevent this eventual wear to your curb.
However, if you embrace the right solution to keep your sidewalk elevated, you will not have to worry about your concrete becoming uneven ever again.
Polyurethane Injection Foam: The Modern Solution
Experts at JES Foundation Repair know all the tricks of the concrete repairing trade. They can quickly assess the damage to your concrete sidewalk and implement the best repair solution: polyurethane injection foam.
This foam consists of high-density polymers that can easily lift and stabilize your concrete sidewalks. Learn more about what this sturdy foam can do.
- Lightweight Repair
You might assume that because concrete is heavy, anything that is used to repair it will be equally heavy and cause it to eventually collapse. While that may be true for some concrete lifting solutions, this is not so for polyurethane injection foam.
As the “foam” part of its name suggests, this solution is very light. It will easily elevate your concrete sidewalk up without ever causing it to sink later down the line. At most, this foam will weigh between four and six pounds per cubic foot used.
- Accurate Lift
Pumping foam inside cracked concrete may sound as if it is indiscriminately filling the underside of your sidewalk and making it more uneven. This is not the case at all. The foam is specifically engineered to target any and all problem areas within your concrete sidewalk. Its speedy reaction time allows it to provide targeted lifting with each application.
- Quick Curing
You can safely walk across an even sidewalk within mere minutes of this foam’s installation. This foam cures within 15 minutes after the initial injection, so installation will be a cinch.
- Waterproof Solution
Polyurethane injection foam compresses and waterproofs the soil supporting it. This means the soil will never wash out, even during severe storms or weather. This will keep your concrete nice and even for years to come.
Concrete Sidewalk Repair
Injecting polyurethane foam may be the best solution for lifting and leveling your concrete sidewalk, but it is certainly not the only repair option available. Two other common concrete lifting methods include mudjacking and complete slab replacement.
Mudjacking is an extremely messy process that involves pumping a mixture of sand, cement, and soil below your collapsed concrete slab through the holes at the top. This will then cause the concrete to lift again, but this comes at a steep cost.
Not only is this haphazard mixture of materials not at all immune to washing out, but it is also likely to shrink or break down far easier than a polyurethane foam would. This can leave large patchy holes in the concrete after completion or after just one particularly grueling storm.
The solution is also extremely heavy, which means your concrete is liable to collapsing or cracking again in the future. The weight of the concrete is what likely caused settling or cracks in the first place, so implementing a heavy solution will only cost you more money in the long run.
- Complete Slab Replacement
Slab replacement requires tearing up your sidewalk and completely replacing it with new slabs. This is a very expensive and time-consuming process that will take days or even weeks to cure. It does not help that this does not compact or replace any loose soil support that may lie underneath. It may also leave an unsightly mismatch of new and old slabs that did not have any existing problems. Tearing up concrete slabs indiscriminately might also cause irreparable damage and cost you a lot more in the end.
Concrete repair can grow more and more costly the longer you let problem signs linger. This is why polyurethane foam injection is the best solution for your concrete sidewalk. Its lightweight, cost-effective solution will both elevate your curb appeal and your sidewalk as a whole. It is also a much cleaner repair than a complete replacement of your concrete slabs. This foam leaves no dust or waste of any kind behind.
It is best to leave any concrete sidewalk repairs you need to the experts at JES Foundation Repair. We have all the right tools and knowledge to implement the best possible solutions to keep your concrete sidewalk permanently lifted and leveled out.
Polyurethane foam injection is an effective concrete lifting solution. However, you might be concerned that it may have an adverse effect on your lawn should it mix with rainwater into the soil.
- What is Polyurethane Foam Made of?
This foam is made up of environmentally friendly materials, so you do not have to worry about it negatively impacting your lawn or any surrounding soil. It is a perfectly safe solution that your concrete sidewalk can rely on to remain permanently lifted and leveled out.
The foam itself is made up of reacting di‐isocyanates and polyols, which are products derived from crude oil. Polyols can also be made up of natural oils as well. Due to the flexibility of these properties during this foam’s production, we can easily tweak its processing power to best fit your unique concrete leveling needs. Essentially, polyurethane foam is a thermosetting plastic with a wide range of applications outside concrete repair.
- Is Polyurethane Used for Other Repairs?
Polyurethane is one of the most versatile substances in the world. It is often used in mattresses for both humans and animals. It is also used for upholstered furniture, within vehicles, and even within clothing. The EU estimates that they produce around 900,000 tons of this foam per annum for various purposes.
Polyurethane is non-leaching, not carcinogenic, and not classified as hazardous per OSHA regulations. In fact, this material is known for preventing other harmful substances from leaching out, encapsulating them so they do not damage anything.
Let the JES Concrete Lifting Experts Help
Concrete sidewalk repair can be quite complicated for many homeowners and business owners. This is why you need professional concrete and foundation experts to handle repairs instead. Contact the JES concrete lifting experts to schedule your free concrete sidewalk inspection today. We service many areas in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C.